Lee Johnson could not have asked for much of a better start to the 2021/22 campaign. The Black Cats ended the fifth matchday top of the League One table with 12 points, winning four of their first five games.
Many plaudits will rightly go to Scottish striker Ross Stewart as he found the back of the net four times in five matches. However, one player who perhaps stole the show from the big Scot is Elliot Embleton.
The Sunderland academy product, who was on loan at Blackpool last season, has made the number 10 position his own and kept summer signing Alex Pritchard out of the team with his terrific performances in August.
He averaged a SofaScore rating of 7.22 across his five starts in League One, scoring two goals and creating another two for his teammates. His excellent displays in midfield have helped string together some superb team performances from the Black Cats.
In terms of his finishing, Embleton has been fairly efficient in front of goal. The midfielder has scored two goals from eight shots and missed one big chance, compared to Stewart’s four goals from 15 shots and two big chances missed this season. This shows that he could have the potential to end the campaign with a respectable, potentially double-figure return in the goals column.
However, it was creatively where Embleton displayed his best qualities. As per SofaScore, he created 11 chances in five games (2.2 per match) and set up one key opening, highlighting the quality of his passes in the final third. This resulted in him picking up two assists, with the midfielder ending the month with four direct goal involvements in five matches.
This shows that the 22-year-old was key to much of what Sunderland did in attack during August as he was at the heart of the action in terms of scoring and creating goals for Johnson’s side. This is why he perhaps stole the show from Stewart, as he coupled scoring with creativity, something the Scot was unable to do with zero assists.
It is now up to Embleton to show that he can be consistent over a longer period of time, but for now we can appreciate the excellence he displayed during August.